There are extensive articles listing duties for todays’ arts professional, inclusive of the personal attributes, traits and skills that need to be acquired, monitored, and continuously developed to facilitate effective management across a variety of fields.
In contrast to the universal strategic template, in which threats and weaknesses are to be addressed in tables, coaching provides a compassionate, neutral space from which challenges and options can be explored verbally and in a self-directed manner. Through the creation of a safe learning environment, coaching facilitates a process from which individuals progress their own understanding towards a particular challenge, with the added dimension of how they both think and feel.
Utilising a combination of active listening, reflection and clarification techniques, coaching provides a mirror image of the clients’ thoughts in the present moment:
‘a style which is based on empathy and understanding and which nurtures individuality (and eccentricity) is going to be more productive than one driven by the need to task and finish’ (Kay and Venner, 2009).
In addition to highlighting the individuals’ progressive journey, coaching works on the principle that the client has the answers and resources within themselves to affect change (Cray and Inglish, 2011). By enabling the client to be present in their thinking, coaching ensures greater insight to the self, enthusing commitment to realised goals, and ownership of the necessary steps to take to achieve these. In this way, coaching is much more suited to the complex make-up and thought-processes of the individual.
And because self-reliance is the corner-stone for the modern-day artist, then it is the delivery of coaching that makes it progressive from current management trends, and particularly suited to the profession. Individual artists often operate within a temporal, isolating environment, are met by occasions of sudden opportunity and subjected to fast paced responses, all of which have the potential to de-moralise the unsupported. Particular to artists, operational activity is increasingly pressured, competitive and personal (Alexander, 2008). Coaching, by placing the client at the centre, recognises and addresses personal and working challenges (and their potential relationship to each other) with equal emphasis. From this, coaching has the potential to ingrain its’ own process within the individual, creating much needed understanding and resilience for the longer-term.
Here, coaching provides a more natural platform from often over-administrated management tools, enhanced through its conversation-led design and accessible use of language. It appeals as a less threatening approach through client-tailoring, and because the technique actively uses reflective methods to seek out opportunities, outcomes for meaningful growth and learning will have a more profound impact (Hackman and Wageman, 2007). Ultimately though, the most defining characteristic of coaching is its’ ability to make contact with an individual in a way that meets a societal need for validation (Covey, 1990). And it is this that makes the method highly suited to artists and those working in the arts sector.